Sunday, December 31, 2017


FROM Grammarly, one of my favorite websites:


The last thing you want to worry about when ringing in the new year is where to put the apostrophe. Get the nitty-gritty on New Year, New Year’s, and New Years so you can make a toast at midnight and get your punctuation right while you’re at it.
When is it “New Year’s”?
Use the apostrophe-S in “New Year’s” when you’re talking about December 31 or January 1 resolutions you’re making, or other things that “belong” to the New Year.
Let’s get grammatical. Apostrophes are the way the English language shows possession or that something belongs to another thing. Here are the three most common uses of New Year:
  • New Year’s Eve: the eve of the New Year
  • New Year’s Day: the first day of the New Year
  • New Year’s resolution: something you say you’re going to do for the New Year
In all three cases, there’s a relationship of belonging between the New Year and the noun: the eve, the day, and the resolution are all specifically related to the New Year (it’s not just any resolution), so “New Year’s” becomes the modifier for each noun.
  • “I like going to big parties on New Year’s.” (This implies “New Year’s Eve,” so “New Year’s” is possessive as a shortcut for referring to December 31.)
  • “I like staying at home and watching movies on New Year’s Day.” (“New Year’s” usually means “New Year’s Eve,” and people usually specify “New Year’s Day” when they’re talking about January 1.)
  • “Let’s have New Year’s brunch.” (The brunch is in honor of New Year’s Day.)
  • “My New Year’s resolution is to remember where the apostrophe goes in New Year’s.” (The resolution belongs to the New Year. And now you can do it too!)
Also, note that “New Year’s” is capitalized because it’s referring to a holiday or a specific event.
When is it “New Year”?
Here’s what to say at midnight (and for the first couple weeks of January): Happy New Year!
You also say “New Year” with no possessive apostrophe-S when you’re talking about the year as a whole. “New Year’s” refers to one night, one day, and one resolution (or a lot of resolutions—we don’t judge). But “new year” usually comes up when people are talking generally about the year, often before it’s begun or when it’s still early in the year.
  • “December is really hectic, so let’s get lunch in the new year.”
  • “Now that it’s the new year, I have so much more time.”
  • “Happy New Year!”
You capitalize “New Year” when you’re talking about the holiday or the big day, but not when you’re referring to the new year as a timeframe.
When is it “New Years”?
New Year’s is the end of one year and the beginning of another year. There are two years involved—the old one and the new one—but only one of them is new.
That means you’ll never have the occasion to say “Happy New Years.” “Years” is plural, and in this galaxy at least, only one year happens at a time.
What if you’re talking about new years in the plural? Here’s one example:
  • “New years always give opportunities for reflecting, celebrating, and resolving to do things differently in the future.”
In this case, the subject is multiple new years, or every single year, at least when it starts. This sentence could also be rephrased to focus on the New Year’s holiday: “New Year’s always gives opportunities for reflecting, celebrating, and resolving to do things differently in the future.”
Note that this version puts the focus on the event of December 31-January 1, instead of every new year. This emphasis is more common. When people talk about a celebration over multiple years, a tradition every December 31, or a generalization about the new year, the term of choice is generally “New Year’s.” This is because in most cases, “New Year’s” is a shortcut for “New Year’s Eve,” and the name of the holiday functions as an adjective.
  • “Every New Year’s I go to a party and we listen to Welcome To The Jungle at midnight.”
  • “All New Year’s parties in bars are overpriced.”
Now you’re all set to celebrate New Year’s, start your new year off strong, and resolve to use apostrophes right in all future new years. Oh, and by the way—happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2017


Last week, at our holiday gathering, I mentioned that I "must see" the movie Lady Bird as I had seen Saoirse Ronan on several talk shows promoting the movie.  I also said that it featured the marvelous Laurie Metcalf and was directed by Greta Gerwig.  One of  our friends, a true cineaste, stated, "Oh, the only place to show that would be The Drexel."

Memories of the Drexel Theater flooded over me. When Gerald and I began dating, we would "go to the movies" at least once a week and the Drexel was the place to see the "independent" movies not available at other theaters and to see the work of directors I'd only read about.  I vividly remember crossing a picket line to see The Life Of Brian, which was being protested by the Legion of Decency. That movie, about the hypocrisy of some religions, remains relevant today, but it is now hardly controversial.  
The Drexel Theater opened in Bexley in 1937, closed for awhile in the 1970s, re-opened in 1981, and became a triplex in the early 1990s. Its Art Deco style decor still remains, along with the neon lighting on the marquee. In 2011 the Drexel Theater became a non-profit organization operated by CAPA (Columbus Association For The Performing Arts).

YES, Lady Bird is now showing at The Drexel.

Friday, December 29, 2017


Can you cry under water? 

Why do you have to "put your two cents in" but it's only a "penny for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny going to?  

Why does a round pizza come in a square box? 

What disease did cured ham actually have? 

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage? 

Why is it that people say they "slept like a babe" when babies wake up like every two hours? 

If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing? 

Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV? 

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground? 

Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway. 

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no sane human being would eat? 

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about him? 

If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat? 

Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs! 

If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME crap, why didn't he just buy dinner? 

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from? 

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons? 

Do the Alphabet Song and  Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

Why did you just try singing the two songs above? 

Why do they call it an asteroid when it's outside the hemisphere, but call it a hemorrhoid when it's in your butt? 

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the window? 

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting dead? 

Why do banks charge a fee on "insufficient funds" when they know there is not enough money? 

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet? 

Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection? 

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard? 

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets? 

Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"? 

Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white? 

Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance? 

Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try? 

How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures? 

When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, "It's all right"? Well, it isn't all right, so why don't we say, "That really hurt, why don't you watch where you're going?"

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over? 

In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?


The statistics on sanity is that one out of every four persons are suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends; if they're okay, then it's you. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017


We were playing "Heads Up"--the "Celebrity"-like game originated by Ellen de Generes--where one participant holds a name above one's head, and another player gives clues for the other player to ascertain the identity.

As Gerald held up the name, I said, "Voluptuous!" and Gerald immediately answered "Sofia Vergara!".  A younger person asked, increduously, "How did you get that from just one word clue?

I said, "She's the only one I can think of now who would qualify nowadays;  I haven't seen anyone that voluptuous since Sophia Loren."  

Gerald quipped, "Maybe it's just the Sophias who qualify!"

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Made with chopped, candied or dried fruit,
nuts and spices and sometimes soaked in
“spirits,” fruitcake has been a holiday
gift-giving tradition for many years.
Rome is believed to be the creator of fruitcake,
and oneof the earliest recipes known comes
from ancient Rome listing pomegranate seeds,
pine nuts and raisins that were mixed into barley
mash.  Records indicate that in the Middle Ages, 
honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added.
 Recipes for fruitcake vary from country to country 
depending on available ingredients and tradition.
Sugar from the American Colonies along with the
 discovery that high concentrations of sugar could
 preserve fruits, created an excess of 
candied fruit hence making fruitcakes 
more affordable and much more popular starting
 in the 16th century. 

Typically, American fruitcakes are rich in fruits and nuts.

In America, mail-order fruitcake began in 1913. 

Commercial fruitcakes are often sold, from catalogs
by charities as fundraising events.

 In 1935, the expression “nutty as a fruitcake"
was coined during the time Southern bakeries,

Collin Street and Claxton, had access to cheap nuts. 
Most mass-produced fruitcakes in America are alcohol-free.

Some traditional recipes include liqueurs 
or brandy and then complete the fruitcake by covering it with 
powdered sugar.

Brandy soaked linens have been used to store 
fruitcakes as some people believe that they improve with age. 
Enjoy some fruitcake and use #NationalFruitcakeDay to post on 
social media.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


I can't imagine having a better older brother than my brother Bode. He was the role model for the rest of us and no matter how the rest of us feel about each other, we all feel the same way about him. He always treated us as peers and never as "kids". He was thirteen years older and when I look back, I wonder why he and I were so close, not only because of the age difference, but also because we disagreed on nearly everything: politics, literature, music, art, and philosophy. I now realize it is because he allowed it. Politically, the rest of us always say he was to the right of Attila the Hun. He was an unrepentant atheist. Of course he had faults and he was a mass of contradictions. He was loyal and judgmental, he was tactless and kind, acerbic and sweet, but brutally honest, with an unwavering certitude that he was right about everything and he didn't suffer fools gladly. He loved the rest of us unconditionally.

He was also the most loyal and generous person in our lives. How could someone so generous be--oh what's the word--oh, I know--CHEAP! Even though he was an atheist, he went along with his family's desire for Christmas. He couldn't understand using wrapping paper ("What a waste of money!") and much to his wife and children's embarrassment and chagrin, every Christmas, presents would be wrapped in the comic sheets from the Sunday newspapers (yes, he saved comic strips all year long).   Recently, I laughed because I saw wrapping paper adorned with comic strip characters in a store.  Bode was just ahead of his time.

If he wanted to talk to me, rather than paying for a long-distance call, he would call, just ask a question (e.g. "Walt Disney's middle name?") and then quickly hang up, because he knew that I would call him back, just to show-off, that I knew the answer and he'd made me pay for the phone call!

We spent twenty years going to Florida to visit with him and his family at Christmas. The unrepentant atheist had the greatest time at Christmas. He always told the story that our own father would go out on Christmas Eve, shoot the shotgun, and come back in and say that Santa had committed suicide. Of course it wasn't true, and when he would tell the story, he was so believable, that someone would invariably ask, "Really--your father did that?" Bode once produced a scavenger hunt for the Christmas presents and after my husband had gone all over Pensacola looking for clues, the last slip of paper directed him to return to Ohio where Bode had hidden his present earlier in the year.

While there we would always go to his favorite Mexican restaurant. Bode and I would sing together at the drop of a hat. One Christmas Eve, we walked into the Mexican restaurant and what was playing but Bing Crosby singing When It's Christmas In Killarney. Not a word was spoken between us, but we immediately joined arms and began singing along at the top of our lungs. The rest of the family (my mother,  sister-in-law, niece, and nephew, along with my husband) slunk away in embarrassment. As Bode and I literally waltzed to the table, he said, "I can't believe they don't understand the exquisite irony of Christmas In Killarney being played in a Mexican restaurant on Christmas Eve!"

One time, when I was a teenager, during the summer, we were in his old Chevrolet station wagon with no air conditioning and we were playing my mother's song-game. [my mother's song game: start to sing a song and end on a word; the other player must start another song with a song with that same word in it, but if the person stops on a word and he doesn't also have another song with the word in it, and if he's challenged, then he's penalized] Unlike most of us, Bode would not stop the song quickly but would sing practically the whole song prior to stopping on a word. As we came to a stop light, people in the car next to us looked over just as Bode was lifting up his arm to emphasize a high note while singing Onward Christian Soldiers:  "Sol---ol-ol-diers!" We all screamed because he had ended on the word "soldiers"! Think of another song with soldiers! Of course, in the game one is
penalized if one sings a song and doesn't have a song with the word in it to counter attack. We knew Bode would always know the word and we'd lose a point if we challenged. In those days, it was "caissons" and not soldiers , so I couldn't respond with the Army song. Dammit! Another point for Bode! Guess what? None of us challenged--of course we were afraid to challenge--so he had bluffed us and he gloated that he didn't have a song with "soldiers" ready.

One evening he had taken us to the Fayette Theater for a movie and when he returned to pick us up, SHE was in the car. I always sat in the front with him and although SHE invited me to sit with them, I jumped in the back with three other brothers. We had never had to share him with anyone. SHE tried to have conversation with us and I was so upset because my brothers were answering all of her questions as if nothing were wrong. Of course, when we got home, I ran in to tell my mother that he had had a girl in the car with us. Two weeks later, SHE was my sister-in-law and I was nine years old.

Listen to Bing sing When It's Christmas In Killarney:

Monday, December 25, 2017

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Saturday, December 23, 2017


My brother Bode sang this to me all my life!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Monday, December 18, 2017

Sunday, December 17, 2017


I'll be posting my favorite Christmas music.  My brother Bode and I had our definite favorites for Christmas music: ONLY Nat for The Christmas Song;   ONLY Bing for White Christmas;  ONLY Elvis for Blue Christmas;  ONLY Judy for "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas;  ONLY Harry Belafonte for Mary's Boy Child;  ONLY Darlene Love for Baby Please Come Home ; ONLY Vince Guaraldi for Christmas Time Is Here; ONLY Gene Autry for Here Comes Santa Claus,  ONLY Burl Ives for A Holly Jolly Christmas; ONLY Perry Como for There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays; ONLY Nancy Wilson for That's What I Want For Christmas;  ONLY Peggy Lee for I Love A Sleigh Ride (Jingle Bells);  ONLY Giselle Mackenzie for It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas";  and only ONLY Rosemary Clooney for Suzy Snowflake (which Bode always sang to me since I was a little girl). 

Saturday, December 16, 2017


This article below was published last year.  I am reprinting it because recently, I had an interesting encounter with one of the people featured in the article:

                              SACRED FAMILY RECIPES

Last week Les baked Apple Cake, which is one of our family's favorite desserts and is from a 
handwritten recipe from our mother.  It is delicious and I shared the cake with several people, one of whom commented, "You probably don't share your family recipes."  I thought, "Why would I NOT want to share a recipe?", but I was not surprised by the comment because I have known quite a number of people who have stated that they would not share recipes.

So, what is it with people and what I derisively call their "sacred family recipes"?  It's not as if they hold a patent.  Do they think people are actually vying to acquire the recipes?  I always laugh inwardly and think to myself, "Hell, if I actually wanted it, I could probably find it on the internet!"

One very irritating and boastful acquaintance brought her "secret recipe" bread pudding to an after-funeral carry-in dinner.  She began telling an elaborate story about the closely-guarded recipe and how it had been handed down generation-to-generation and had been made famous by her family's former restaurant and how she had been sworn to secrecy and could only share the recipe with her first-born child.   I thought it was neither the time nor the place to be vaunting about one's bread pudding, but also believe that a sense of propriety is lost on braggarts.

After her trying to force the bread pudding on me, I finally tasted it and that was followed by her asking several questions such as, "Can you believe how good this is?" and "Isn't this the best you've ever tasted?"  I refrained from saying, "It's just freaking bread pudding and not a dasquoise!" but I instead replied, "I'm sorry, but I like my mother's bread pudding much more."  She was obviously shocked and said, "Everybody has to say their mother's stuff is better."  I laughed and said, "Yes, that's exactly what YOU are saying!"  

Although I had turned and walked away from her, she persisted and said that many people had "begged" for the recipe.  I was weary of her gasconade and said, "I notice that nobody here is asking for it."

At a Christmas gathering last year, one woman was telling that her mother was a "Clay" and her popcorn ball recipe came "directly from Henry Clay".    After a lengthy discourse about the popcorn balls, she stated that she was not allowed to share the recipe.  I restrained myself from laughing but could not help noticing that nobody had even asked for the recipe.  

Later, the woman revealed that she was a descendant of Charlemagne.  I asked, "Do you have any recipes from Charles Martel?"

OK, I admit that was a bit of showing-off by me with the Charles Martel reference, and it was obvious that she did not understand the reference as she asked, "What does that mean?"  I answered, "Oh, Charles Martel was Charlemagne's grandfather;  you know, the Battle of Tours and kicking the Moors out of Europe and changing the course of history."  

Obviously still not grasping that I was making fun of her supposed royal heritage, she asked, "Are you a descendant too?"  I answered, "No, I'm descended from Irish peasants;  they didn't have any recipes as they were dying from not having potatoes."  Les and Gerald have warned me about using sarcasm on those who don't "get" it.

I find it interesting that people want to believe that they are descended from royalty.  Of course Irish descendants are just as pretentious as we think we are all descended from King Brian Boru.

Friday, December 15, 2017


I was taking my usual short-cut -- the alley beside the South Side Church of Christ -- and besides the convenience, I like to look at the live-animal manger scene there.

Half-way down the alley, I saw a young male carrying two large, white bags and I thought he'd probably been to the convenience store across the street from the church.   I stopped the car and asked, "Do you want a ride?" He agreed and I told him to put the bags in the back seat.   I said, "Brrr, it's so cold out there!" 

I saw that there was straw in the bags and I immediately realized that he had taken the straw from the manger scene. I asked where he was going and he said, "Hickory Street." I said, "That's not very far." When I turned onto Hickory Street, he said, "It's the last house ;  it's where there's a big Santa."

I said, "I don't see a big Santa," but the boy said, "It's the last house,  Santa's down."   Seeing a dog in the yard,  I said, "Oh, your dog's outside." He said, "I brought him inside for a little while last night but my mom won't let him stay inside; that's why I needed the straw." I thought, "The dog probably needs the straw as much as the animals at the manger." and decided not to lecture him.

I noticed that the "big Santa",  an inflatable Santa,  was on the ground -- deflated -- and I suddenly felt deflated and sad for the boy swiping the straw.

When I got home, I told Les about the incident and he said, "I'll bet the Baby Jesus didn't mind."

Thursday, December 14, 2017


I do not answer telephone calls from callers whose numbers I do not recognize.

I kept receiving calls with messages for a person named "Marty";  after receiving numerous calls from Adena, CVS, and Merchants Bank with messages for "Marty",  I assumed that the woman had transposed the numbers and that was the reason for the error.  I called the doctor,  pharmacist, and banker to tell them of the problem and I suggested that they check their files to see if "Marty" had a next of kin listed and make contact with that person to correct the problem. 

After talking to a caller who was a friend of "Marty",  I learned that Marty had a daughter named "Leah", and I had seen a Leah listed on the Caller ID.  I called "Leah"and she said she would call AT&T.  The next day Leah told me that when her mother's number was changed it ended in "8304" instead of 8034 which is my number, but AT&T had assigned my number to Marty.   "WHAT?  HOW can that happen?",  I asked.

Techniccally, I don't understand the "HOW" or "WHY" of this problem.  

When Leah told me that AT&T had resolved the issue, I was relieved and within days of not receiving any calls for "Marty",  I thought it was fixed.

Yesterday, I called my friend Judy several times but did not leave a message;  rather, I just called her cell phone.  When she did not answer there, I re-called her home phone and began leaving a message.  Suddenly, my friend's son said, "Sue, is that you?" and when I answered "yes", he told me that they hadn't picked up when they saw the call showing on the caller ID was from--and YES, you guessed it--MARTY!

When I called AT&T, the voice on the other end said that she had taken care of problems like this and shocked, I asked, "So, you're telling me that this happens a lot?"   

I called several people and asked if it was showing "Marty" or "Sue" on theit caller ID.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


After years of not venturing out to stores on Black Friday, I broke that by going out on  November 26.  Gerald and I went to Home Depot to purchase a microwave to fit in the space above our kitchen range as the old microwave had conked out after twenty years.  

After checking Consumer Reports Gerald had made his choice of a Whirlpool microwave which was advertised in the sale papers.  We took the measurements with us and learned that the chosen microwave was not available and would need to be ordered.  The "Appliance Specialist" handling the sale scheduled the time for the delivery and installation for December 4 and said that the installer would call us the evening prior to the installation to give us a expected time of arrival.   That  did not happen.  On the morning of December 4, I called to verify the scheduled delivery.  I was told that I was sixth on the list with a window of several hours.

When the microwave was delivered the installer told me that it could not be installed because there was a difference of 1 1/4 inches in the length of the new microwave and the space would need to be "modified" and the installers could not accommodate that.  The installer said that my husband could "stick in a piece of wood"and then they could install the microwave.  I told them that my husband was at work .  I told them to take it back if they couldn't install it and I was told they couldn't do that and that I would have to get Home Depot to arrange that.  That was when I learned that he worked for G.E., rather than Home Depot.  The microwave and packaging was left on the kitchen floor.  

After several days of wrangling with Home Depot, with my demanding that Home Depot install the microwave because we'd paid the installation fee, Gerald installed a piece of  wood.  I called Home Depot, and spoke with four separate personnel, including "assistant managers" attempting to have an appointment for installation.  Eric assured me that he would take care of it and that he would call me the next day after scheduling an installation appointment. That did not happen.  On December 11, I called Home Depot and learned that the earliest installation would be on December 19.

I told the associate, "I hope you know that I am very unhappy!"

Earlier in the day, I had received an 800-listing,  offering for me to participate in a survey about our recent purchase.  With the ratings of 1 to 5, my survey reflected nearly all of my responses were "1", which is not favorable

Years ago, I had poor service from Sears and I wrote a blog article  complaining and I received a reply to the blog  because the Quality Control people found it on google.  The outcome was that I received a $50.00 gift card.  My brother said that I should just forward the blog to the Home Depot corporate office.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


CHANUKAH 2017 will be celebrated December 12-20.

For your edification, below is a primer for Chanukah provided by Rabbi Shraga Simmons:

Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, begins on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, and lasts for eight days. On the secular calendar, Chanukah generally falls out in December.

This primer will explore:

(1) A Bit of History
(2) Lighting Instructions
(3) Other Customs

The Hebrew word Chanukah means "dedication." In the 2nd century BCE, during the time of the Second Holy Temple, the Syrian-Greek regime of Antiochus sought to pull Jews away from Judaism, with the hopes of assimilating them into Greek culture. Antiochus outlawed Jewish observance ― including circumcision, Shabbat, and Torah study ― under penalty of death. As well, many Jews ― called Hellenists ― began to assimilate into Greek culture, taking on Greek names and marrying non-Jews. This began to decay the foundation of Jewish life and practice.

When the Greeks challenged the Jews to sacrifice a pig to a Greek god, a few courageous Jews took to the hills of Judea in open revolt against this threat to Jewish life. Led by Matitiyahu, and later his son Judah the Maccabee, this small band of pious Jews led guerrilla warfare against the Syrian-Greek army.

Antiochus sent thousands of well-armed troops to crush the rebellion, but after three years the Maccabees beat incredible odds and miraculously succeeded in driving the foreigners from their land. The victory was on the scale of Israel defeating the combined super-powers of today.

Jewish fighters entered Jerusalem and found the Holy Temple in shambles and desecrated with idols. The Maccabees cleansed the Temple and re-dedicated it on the 25th of Kislev. When it came time to re-light the Menorah, they searched the entire Temple, but found only one jar of pure oil bearing the seal of the High Priest. The group of believers lit the Menorah anyway and were rewarded with a miracle: That small jar of oil burned for eight days, until a new supply of oil could be brought.

From then on, Jews have observed a holiday for eight days, in honor of this historic victory and the miracle of the oil. To publicize the Chanukah miracle, Jews add the special Hallel praises to the Shacharit service, and light a menorah during the eight nights of Chanukah.

In Ashkenazi tradition, each person lights his own menorah. Sefardi tradition has just one menorah per family.

To publicize which night of Chanukah it is, all eight candles on the menorah should be at the same height ― and preferably in a straight line. Otherwise, the candles may not be easily distinguishable and may appear like a big torch.

In addition to the eight main lights, the menorah has an extra helper candle called the "Shamash." As we are forbidden to use the Chanukah lights for any purpose other than "viewing," any benefit is as if it's coming from the Shamash.

Since the Shamash does not count as one of the eight regular lights, your menorah should have the Shamash set apart in some way ― either placed higher than the other candles, or off to the side.

The most important thing is that that your candles must burn for at least 30 minutes after nightfall. (Those famous colored candles barely qualify!) Many Jewish bookstores sell longer colored candles.

Actually, it is even better to use olive oil, since the miracle of the Maccabees occurred with olive oil. Glass cups containing oil can be placed in the candle holders of any standard menorah. Many Jewish bookstores even sell kits of pre-measured oil in disposable cups.

To best publicize the miracle, the menorah is ideally lit outside the doorway of your house, on the left side when entering. (The mezuzah is on the right side; in this way you are "surrounded by mitzvot.") In Israel, many people light outside in special glass boxes built for a menorah.

If this is not practical, the menorah should be lit in a window facing the public thoroughfare.

Someone who lives on an upper floor should light in a window. If for some reason the menorah cannot be lit by a window, it may be lit inside the house on a table; this at least fulfills the mitzvah of "publicizing the miracle" for the members of the household.

Since the mitzvah occurs at the actual moment of lighting, moving the menorah to a proper place after lighting does not fulfill the mitzvah.

The preferable time to light the menorah is at nightfall. It is best to light in the presence of many people, which maximizes the mitzvah of "publicizing the miracle" and adds to the family atmosphere. The menorah can still be lit (with the blessings) late into the night, as long as people are still awake.

The menorah should remain lit for at least 30 minutes after nightfall, during which time no use should be made of its light.

On Friday afternoon, the menorah should be lit 18 minutes before sundown. And since the menorah needs to burn for 30 minutes into the night, the candles used on Friday need to be bigger than the regular "colored candles" (which typically don't burn longer than a half-hour).


On the first night, place one candle at the far right, as you face the menorah. This applies whether the menorah is placed next to a doorway or by a window.

Another candle is placed for the Shamash (taller helper candle) which is used to light the others. It is not counted as one of the candles.

First light the Shamash, then recite the blessings, and then use the Shamash to light the Chanukah candle.

On the second night, place two candles in the two far-right positions ― and use the Shamash to light the left one first.

The third night, place three candles in the three far-right positions ― and use the Shamash to light them in order, from left to right.

Follow this same procedure each night of Chanukah... until all the lights are kindled and glowing brightly!

Watch animation of how to light the Menorah

Listen to the blessings for lighting the Menorah

Print formatted text of this blessing

The first two blessings are said with the Shamash already lit, but immediately prior to lighting the Chanukah candles.

Baruch ata Ado-noi Elo-heinu melech ha-olam, Asher kid-shanu bi-mitzvo-sav, Vi-tzee-vanu li-had-leek ner shel Chanukah.

Blessed are You, the Lord our God, King of the universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

Baruch ata Ado-noi Elo-heinu melech ha-olam, Shi-asa nee-seem la-avo-seinu, Baya-meem ha-haim baz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, the Lord our God, King of the universe, Who made miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.

This blessing is said on the first night only.
Baruch ata Ado-noi Elo-heinu melech ha-olam, Sheh-he-che-yanu vi-kee-yimanu Vi-hee-gee-yanu laz-man ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, the Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
The following paragraph is said each night, after the first light has been kindled:
Ha-nerot ha-lalu anach-nu mad-likin Al ha-nissim vi-al hanif-laot Al ha-tshu-ot vi-al ha-milchamot She-asita la'avo-teinu Ba-yamim ha-heim, ba-zman ha-zeh Al ye-dey kohan-echa haki-doshim.
Vi-chol shmonat ye-mey Chanukah Ha-nerot ha-lalu kodesh heim, Ve-ein lanu reshut li-heesh-tamesh ba-hem Ela leer-otam bilvad Kedai le-hodot u-li-hallel li-shimcha Al ni-secha vi-al niflo-techa vi-al yeshua-techa.

After lighting the Chanukah menorah, families enjoy sitting in the glow, singing and recalling the miracles of yesterday and today. The first song traditionally sung after lighting the candles is Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages). (click for audio and lyrics)

A number of other customs have developed, including:
•eating "oily" foods like fried potato latkes (pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts), in commemoration of the miracle of the oil
•giving Chanukah gelt (coins) to children
•spinning the dreidel, a four-sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side (sivivon in Hebrew)

What is the origin of the dreidel?

In times of persecution when Torah study was forbidden, Jewish children would learn anyway. When soldiers would investigate, the children would pull out a dreidel and pretend to be playing.

The letters on the dreidel are nun, gimmel, hey, shin ― the first letters of Nes Gadol Haya Sham – "A Great Miracle Happened There." (In Israel, the last letter is a Pey ― "Here.") One way to play dreidel is to see who can keep theirs spinning for the longest time. Or alternatively, to see how many dreidels you can get spinning simultaneously.

Another version of dreidel is where players use pennies, nuts, raisins, or chocolate coins as tokens or chips. Each player puts an equal share into the "pot." The first player takes a turn spinning the dreidel. When the dreidel stops, the letter facing up determines:
•Nun – nothing happens; the next player spins the dreidel
•Gimmel – the spinner takes the pot
•Hey – take half the pot
•Shin – add one to the pot

(Alternatively, you can play where everyone spins their own dreidel simultaneously. Anyone who gets Nun takes 2 from the pot; Gimmel takes 1 from the pot; Hey puts 1 into the pot; Shin gives 1 to the person on his/her right.)

On Chanukah we add "Al Ha'nisim" – an extra paragraph which describes the Chanukah miracle – to the Amidah prayer, and also to the Grace After Meals.


Monday, December 11, 2017


Phone conversation today:

Friend:  "I sent you a message on Facebook and never saw an answer."

I:  "I answered and told you I was forwarding your message to Judy."

Friend:  "I never got it;  hey, is that your wedding picture on Facebook?"

I:  "Yes;  why?"

Friend:  "You look like Karen Carpenter."

I:   "Well, I was thin then, but not anorexic."

Friend:  "Weren't we all?"

I:   "Which one, thin or anorexic?  In my fantasy life, I looked like Natalie Wood."


Sunday, December 10, 2017


HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Emily Dickinson, born December 10, 1838.

See a delightful article from Sarah Lyall from The New York Times titled Alone At Emily Dickinson's Desk:

Saturday, December 9, 2017


 The following comes from a site called Interesting Amazing Facts.

Urine was used to to tan animal skins, so families 

would all pee in a pot and once a day the pot would 
be was taken and sold to a tannery, thus, if you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor",  but worse 
than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot as they “didn’t have a pot to piss in”;  thus they were \the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and 

complain because the water temperature isn’t just 
how you like it, think about how things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in
May, they still smelled pretty good by June.  However, since they were
starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body
odor, hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had
the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then
the women and finally the children.  Last of all the babies. By then the
water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it, hence the saying,
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood
underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats
and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it
became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the
roof, hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a
real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess
up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over
the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt floors, hence
the saying, “Dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors that would get
slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to
help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until,
when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of
wood was placed in the entrance-way, hence, a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always
hung over the fire.  Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot.
They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat
the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and
then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been

there for quite a while, hence the rhyme: "Peas porridge hot,
peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."  Sometimes they
could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came
over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth
that a man could, “bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little to
share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."

Those with money had plates made of pewter.  Food with high acid content
caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning
death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or
so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the
loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the "upper crust."

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would
sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking
along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial..
They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family
would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake
up, hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to
bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a
bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of
25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized
they had been burying people alive, so they would tie a string on the wrist
of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and
tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night ("the
graveyard shift") to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, "saved by the
bell "or was considered a "dead ringer." 

At some time in Europe men made a living by wearing a huge  cape and carrying 
a chamber pot.  A gentleman would walk up, pay the man a few pence, be engulfed 
by the cape for privacy, and then relieve himself in the pot. Mel Brooks played such
 a character, Le Garçon de Pisse or "piss boy", in his film History Of The World, Part 1.

Who said history couldn't be interesting?

Friday, December 8, 2017


When we moved into our current home, we could not afford to buy the dining room furniture I wanted, thus the middle of the room sat empty for more than a year, with only my grandmother's antiques: the drop-leaf table, "3-corner table", and "library table" situated against the walls. 

Any meals we had were eaten at the kitchen table. I wasn't about to serve food on my grandmother's antiques; besides, I had no chairs to go with them.

A brother-in-law of one of my brothers was "touring" the house and he said, "You should get a dining room set like ours." I asked, "Do you have cherry furniture?" He said, "No, we have oak." I said, "But the built-in hutch and buffet are cherry." He said, "But ours is really nice; it would look good in here." I said, "It probably is nice, but it wouldn't match our decor." "Well, why don't you just get cherry?",  he asked, I thought, rather disdainfully. I considered saying, "I haven't found exactly what I want.", but instead said, "I can't afford it."

From the look on his face you would have thought that I had just admitted to an ignominious secret. Then, I saw a look of pity from both him and his wife.

Asudden, I felt very liberated. Imagine, being able to tell the truth.

This was a defining moment in my life. When people are so rude to ask those kind of questions, I always answer, "I can't afford it!"